Retired Colonel Strategist Ersan Ergür, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Justice Defenders Strategic Studies Center (ASSAM), penned a study on aircraft carriers which will be the first in Turkish history. We discussed with Ergür both aircraft carriers and maritime strategy and Turkey's difficult struggle in the Mediterranean...
Sir, although aircraft carriers are very important, there are not many publications. What would you say in this issue?
Yes, no books have been written on aircraft carriers. That’s right. No academic study has been done. One or two theses that exist include technical calculations related to the aircraft carriers. The Ministry of National Defense and the Navy have probably done some work within their own system, but these are Report or review-like studies and may not be publicly available.
A guiding work
So why did you feel the need to give work in this field?
In our work, we have examined what the aircraft carrier strategy should be in terms of Turkey's future vision since the first World War, the debut of aircraft carriers. We have demonstrated their effectiveness and strategic importance in naval warfare. We tried to create a viewpoints on this issue for Turkey. In this sense, it is a very important book. However, of course, it is the product of a short study. It can be studied in more detail. Someone can do better and perhaps more effective work based on our book.
Westernization love ruined us
Are the deficiencies related to a poor understanding of naval strategy?
The fact that no work has been written on this subject before is related to Turkey's foreign policy and its view of maritime strategies. Turkey is a country condemned to Westernization, Turkey is removed from technological developments, and adopted as a strategy to protect its borders by buying the weapons of these states. Of course, this strategy is not right. Consider the aircraft factory that opened in 1938. Consider the Nuri Killigil arms and ammunition factory. One was locked up and one was sabotaged. Will these states allow us to build aircraft carriers and understand its importance? Turkey had no time to think about aircraft carrier while producing warship.
Is the exact time come?
Yes. Our first light aircraft carrier will meet our seas in late 2021.
What is the advantage of aircraft carriers in the seas, can you please explain?
Look at the Ottoman navy that turned the Mediterranean into a Lake, bringing the world's states to their knees... Chief Admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa, who has been the sole ruler of the seas for centuries, said: “Who rules the seas, rules the world.” A US general, sailor Alfret Mahan, who lived centuries after him, developed a theory that "If you want to direct world trade and politics, you must dominate the seas". Today they even train Turkish mariners with this strategy.
United States’ trump aircraft carrier
Why there was a cut in the Republic period when the Ottomans had a magnificent naval strategy?
They made us forget. Unfortunately, they did it. The USA comes from 8 thousand kilometers away and says I am in the Mediterranean. How did they do it. They provided floating islands in international waters by aircraft carriers. After that, they acquired bases in many countries. Why are US aircraft carriers in the Eastern Mediterranean? The center of Asia-Africa and Europe; is critical region because it is connecting the world with the Red Sea, Gibraltar, Istanbul and the Dardanelles Straits. It directs the world economy therefore, world politics by controlling the commercial ships that control this region and the sea routes. It is that simple.
Today there are still those who argue that there is no need aircraft carrier in Turkey, what do you think?
Is it right? What is the difference between those who say this and the mentality that sabotaged Nuri Killigil's Arms and Ammunition Factory to be blown up. If Turkey cannot produce its own car, it is because of this same mentality. The politics of these old-fashioned people no longer have the right to direct the strategy of Turkey. Turkey is now in the position of a regional player, soon it will be global as well. Did not France threaten to send its aircraft carrier over the problems between us and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean? Imagine that Turkey would respond in the same way with its own aircraft carrier. Could they dare that?
We will be one of the few world powers in 10-15 years
What is the situation in Naval force?
The Turkish Navy is a powerful navy, but it does not have the power to compare with the superpowers. The warships we have are not our own technology. We have just started building our own national ships. Of course, we are stronger than our neighbors. There is a domestic and national attack. It is just a beginning. Our navy is a candidate to become one of the few countries in the world in 10-15 years.
Let's move on to foreign policy... What do you think is at the heart of the problem in the Eastern Mediterranean?
The Eastern Mediterranean is on China's future planned Maritime Silk Road. It is located at the confluence of three continents. One third of the world trade passes through here. Controlling the trade route will surely give you strength. Of course, there is also an energy issue. Turkey with energy in the region will make it strong against all imperialist states, including the United States. If you control energy, you can control states which need energy. This is the point exactly. To enrich your people by exploiting the resources of others. Otherwise, what are the USA, France, Germany, England doing in the region?
Let's deal with Islamic countries
What to do if Greece's strategies to corner us over the Greeks are effective?
Of course, the whole world is against Turkey. In fact, they are provoking Greece and the GCASC against Turkey for their own ambitions by encouraging them. Although the GCASC is vigilant, it becomes rich in a short time and increases its economic prosperity by cooperating with the TRNC and Turkey. Moreover, they live in peace. Because the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey never have an eye for the resources of the GCASC or Greece. As a matter of fact, calm has prevailed on the island since the Cyprus Peace Operation. Against this huge game, Turkey must sign individual agreements with the Islamic countries that are on the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Is it not difficult for the global conjuncture to make a deal with Islamic countries under these conditions?
It is not that difficult at all. Are not we a community that lived together in this region under the Ottoman flag until near past? As a matter of fact, what happened in Libya is the proof of this. Turkey has stopped fighting. Imagine that this is done with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and other countries. You do not have to tell the imperialists to go, they'll go on their own.
A strong Turkey transcends everything
Will Turkey overcome this challenge?
Of course, Turkey will. We will see it together. Do not worry. Who controls this region, controls world trade. Note that the origin of all three religions is this geography.
So, it's not just a Turkish-Greek problem?
Yes. The issue is global. Cyprus, the Aegean Islands, and Greece are tiny pawns. It is necessary not to get stuck and drown in these issues. On the other hand, those who call the islands near us and try to make collide us with Greece are exploiting our energy, our trade, the resources of Muslims and sucking our blood. If you focus on the big issue, the little ones will be put in their way on their own. A strong Turkey will know how to take back the islands without firing a single bullet
Finally, can we get your comment on the Karabakh victory?
Turkey's path to the Muslim states of Central Asia has been opened. Courage and confidence came to these states, which did not survive the pressure of Soviet Russia. The Silk Road's connection to Turkey via Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan has been secured. It does not matter if Russia comes there or not. Russia will be asked to account for the violations of the Armenians. This agreement concluded in the perfect position according to the terms and balances.